Modernizing a Veterinary Distributor’s E-Commerce Presence
Penn Veterinary Supply is a family-owned veterinary supplies distributor founded in 1981 who serve licensed veterinary facilities in the Eastern United States. They have a catalog of 12,000+ products, 3 distribution warehouses, and more than 8,000 active customer accounts.
Penn Vet had a number of goals to achieve when this e-commerce modernization project started. For starters, their old website was very dated in appearance and needed a fresh look with a more modern user interface. That dated interface also led to a scalability problem. Penn Vet was generating 80% of new customers coming from their e-commerce channel, but 75% of orders were still coming in via call-in sales and sales rep-entered orders. Some of those call-in orders stemmed from an inability to offer a variety of manufacturer-mandated product promotions on the old site without needing a human-in-the-loop. Another significant challenge was maintenance of the old site. When products were updated in the ERP system, someone had to be notified to go update the same product on the e-commerce channel, causing duplication of work.
Asponte partnered with Penn Vet for every step of the e-commerce modernization project. The project started with a design thinking workshop that defined user personas, created journey maps, outlined requirements for site functionality, and established initial User Experience guidance that put a jumpstart on the overall project.
Design and development of the new site was completed in phases using an Agile methodology. This offered a great opportunity to focus each phase on a specific purpose or function of the website and build the site as if we were completing a story. We started with the homepage, worked through finding products, adding them to a cart, checking out an order, and then creating the remaining value add features. Asponte leveraged out-of-the-box features of the HCL Digital Experience platform whenever possible and created custom java portlets to supplement any gaps in functionality required.
The e-commerce channel for Penn Vet is as full-service as calling a sales rep. The site offers ordering capabilities, order tracking, user preference-based notifications, equipment and replacement part management, loyalty program tracking, bill pay, user management, and product returns. There are even purchase history analytics and many personalization options throughout the site such as saving favorite product promotions, creating shopping lists, and choosing how products display in search results.
Asponte also hosts and manages much of the server infrastructure for pennvet.com in a cloud environment. Asponte implemented a cost efficient server strategy that provisioned and configured servers on a just-in-time basis to reduce unnecessary budget for infrastructure not needed for many months. Asponte employs active monitoring, data backups, and regular maintenance.
Following the launch of the upgraded site, Asponte remains in a continuous improvement development model where new features and functions are added to the site on a regular basis according to feedback from customers and in support of new initiatives from Penn Vet. Pennvet.com is better positioned for market growth and extending the mission of exceptional service to Penn Vet customers than ever before.
- HCL Digital Experience: Product catalog is stored in Web Content Manager along with images, videos, and documents related to product SKUs; custom portlets created for page components to allow content authors to create modular pages; integrated with customer ERP for complete order history and real-time pricing.
- HCL Interact: Stores and surfaces 100+ active product promotions; delivers promotions based on customer segments; provides ability for a single promotion to show in multiple locations on the website.
- Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager: Provides detailed web analytics.
- Twilio: Users can choose to get text message notifications for web/order activity.
The site has seen great success in the first year since the redesign. We are continually developing new enhancements and functionalities based on feedback from Penn Vet and their customers.
Penn Vet also has a much greater ability to keep content on the site up-to-date with the drag-and-drop page components created and offer a greater expanse of resources for customers to leverage with their blog, marketing resources, and online forms.